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November 23, 2005
Governing Toronto Advisory Panel recommends major changes for Toronto City Council
The Governing Toronto Advisory Panel today recommended a bold, new direction
for the City of Toronto.

The Panel’s report, The City We Want – the Government We Need, calls on Toronto
City Council to adopt significant and far reaching changes to its governance
structure, their focus and the role of the Mayor.

“The status quo is not an option,” stated Ann Buller, the Chair of the
Governing Toronto Advisory Panel. “City Council requires a dramatic change to
prepare for the impending revisions to the City of Toronto Act.”

Buller, President of Centennial College, was joined by the other Panel members,
Sujit Choudhry, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto and
Martin Connell, ACE Bakery Ltd. co-owner/co-founder and Toronto Community
Foundation Chair.

The Panel presented an 11 recommendation plan that includes advice such as
improving civic engagement and community involvement; strengthening of City
Council’s ability to focus on city-wide priorities; creating an Executive
Committee to integrate the City’s agenda; providing the Mayor with the tools to
lead; and empowering Community Councils.

In July, 2005, Toronto City Council appointed the Governing Toronto Advisory
Panel to provide advice and support to the City’s governance structure. In the
ensuing months, Buller, Choudhry and Connell have met with City Councillors,
the Mayor, community groups, business stakeholders, members of the general
public and respected academics.

“We are a city full of promise. We are an engaged city that cares about our
future,” said Buller. “This is our opportunity to take control of our future.
As Torontonians, we deserve nothing less.”

The City We Want – the Government We Need, will be considered at the November
29 Policy and Finance Committee meeting before going to City Council in

Backgrounder and Fact Sheet below.

For more information please visit

Media contacts:

Allan Cohen
Strategic Communications
647-224-0606 (cell)

Cindy Bromley
Communications Manager
City of Toronto


Governing Toronto Advisory Panel

In July, 2005, Toronto City Council appointed a three member Governing Toronto
Advisory Panel to provide advice on the City’s governance structure in
anticipation of being given the powers to determine its own structure under a
new City of Toronto Act.

The volunteer members of the panel are:

  • Ann Buller - President of Centennial College (Panel Chair)
  • Sujit Choudhry - Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of
  • Martin Connell - ACE Bakery Ltd. co-owner/co-founder and Toronto
    Community Foundation Chair

    The panel was asked to engage Members of Council, the general public, urban
    experts, academics, community-based organizations and other key stakeholders
    and report its recommendations Council’s Policy and Finance Committee.
    Specifically, it was asked to:

    1. To provide information, findings and options to Council so that it can
    debate and make decisions about its governance system in order to prepare for
    and exercise governmental powers.

    2. To ensure an engagement process with Members of Council, citizens, civic
    leaders and other stakeholders so that various points of view and ideas can be
    heard and discussed.

    3. To encourage a civil, robust and informed discussion of options among all
    sectors of Toronto society interested in a well governed City.
    4. To integrate related issues resulting from the City of Toronto Act review,
    the final report of the Bellamy Inquiry and any recommendations pertaining to
    good governance, and the ongoing procedures review.

    The Panel met with citizens, members of council and community-based
    organizations. In addition, citizens made presentations and briefs. Comments
    were also made by email and through an online survey. The Panel also reviewed
    documentation and commissioned research in civic engagement, legislative
    processes and political governance structures.

    The Panel identified four guiding principles in developing its recommendations:

    1. Governance for an order of government
    2. strategic city-wide perspective
    3. Increased civic participation and engagement
    4. Broadened public accountability

    The Panel’s report will be considered by Members of Council as it determines
    directions for a new governance structure under the new City of Toronto Act.

    Fact Sheet

    Governing Toronto Advisory Panel Recommendations

    The following 11 recommendations by the Governing Toronto Advisory Panel are
    detailed in their report of November 23, 2005, The City We Want, the Government
    We Need.

    Recommendation One: Strengthen Council’s ability to focus on strategic, city-wide priorities
    • Increase Council’s term of office from three years to four years
    • Delegate transactional decision-making to staff, committees of Council and other administrative bodies, with appropriate checks and balances
    • Enforce procedural rules related to agenda deadlines and notice requirements
    • Adjust the legislative meeting calendar to separate transactional business from strategic planning and policy making work
    • Appoint a full-time Speaker and a Deputy Speaker to preside over Council meetings and protect the dignity of Council’s deliberations through the enforcement of procedural and behavioural rules

    Recommendation Two: Create an Executive Committee with responsibility for furthering the City’s agenda
    • Appointed and chaired by the Mayor with membership comprising the chairs of Standing Committees, Community Councils (to ensure geographic representation), the Toronto Transit Commission, and the Deputy Mayor
    • Responsible for:
      • Integrating City-wide strategic planning and setting priorities
      • Linking City-wide priorities to financial resources through the budget process
      • Coordinating Council’s agenda management and managing the flow of policy issues to Council
      • Ensuring that Standing Committees develop work plans consistent with the City’s strategic direction
    • Salaries of Councillors serving on the Executive Committee should be raised to recognize their increased responsibilities. The amount of this increase should be determined following a review of practices used in other cities and orders of government
    • Receive advice and analytical support from a dedicated office consisting of professional, non-partisan staff, free of obligations to individual programs

    Recommendation Three: Broaden the Mayor’s scope of responsibility to reflect the public’s expectations of the position and to enable the Mayor to lead effectively
    • With the Executive Committee, at the beginning of each term, set a multi-year, city-wide vision and strategic directions for Council’s approval
    • Hold four annual meetings with members of the public (“Mayor’s days”) in different parts of the city to receive public feedback and input on the City’s direction
    • Deliver an annual state-of-the-city address reporting on the achievement of the strategic directions
    • Appoint and remove the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Standing Committees, Community Councils, the Toronto Transit Commission, and the Deputy Mayor
    • Make recommendations to Council through the Executive Committee on major City-wide policy issues
    • Lead a budget process supporting strategic directions; sponsor the budget in Council
    • Speak for Toronto nationally and internationally
    • Negotiate with other orders of government, within broad policy parameters established by Council
    • Serve as a signing officer on intergovernmental agreements (but with no unfettered right to bind the City)
    • Direct, appoint and dismiss the City Manager

    Recommendation Four: Ensure Standing Committees move the City-wide agenda forward
    • Establish work plans that demonstrate how they will advance the strategic priorities
    • Committee chairs would be expected to champion the recommendations of their Standing Committees at Council
    • Review the process and approach to deputations, ensuring a respectful environment is created, and that the public has broadened access
    • Form a new Standing Committee focusing on economic development and competitiveness

    Recommendation Five: Empower Community Councils
    • Exercise delegated local transactional decision-making authority, governed by Council-approved policy
    • Conduct a minimum of four public engagement sessions annually within their areas, to provide community input into key issues, such as the setting of strategic directions and budget
    • Determine a more effective method of ensuring neighbourhood input using the City’s 140 identified neighbourhoods, to feed into local priority setting and service planning
    • Meet in the evening, when more community members are able to attend

    Recommendation Six: Enhance civic engagement and community involvement
    • In consultation with the community, the City develop a shared, common civic engagement strategy that integrates and builds upon activities currently undertaken
    • In particular, use this engagement strategy in the 13 neighbourhoods identified as having priority for infrastructure investment under the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy

    Recommendation Seven: Retain ward-based representation
    • Council maintain wards and reject at-large election of Councillors to help ensure that marginalized communities are not further disadvantaged

    Recommendation Eight: A better planning process
    • Mayor to champion the completion and adoption by Council of the comprehensive zoning by-law to implement the new Official Plan, and Council commit the necessary resources to complete the process
    • Require a 2/3 majority whenever Council wishes to make an amendment to the new comprehensive zoning by-law, which professional planning staff determines is contrary to the new Official Plan
    • In anticipation of Ontario Municipal Board reform, establish a Toronto Appeal Board for Committee of Adjustment decisions
    • Establish a professional design review panel to review and amend select development plans from a design perspective, working within Council-approved guidelines

    Recommendation Nine: Budgeting tied to strategic priorities
    • The Executive Committee must set out an overall vision for the budget (operating and capital) and realign resources and/or reduce costs as necessary, based on the overall vision
    • The budget process and outcomes must be tied to and implement Council’s strategic priorities
    • Move towards a budget process that places more emphasis on the upfront work of priority setting and committee review, and where the final step of the budget process involves City Council voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to adopt the budget as a whole

    Recommendation Ten: Strengthen the commitment to economic Development and Competitiveness
    • Council must act immediately to create a new Standing Committee, the Economic Development and Competitiveness Committee
    • the Mayor must provide the leadership on this policy matter

    Recommendation Eleven: Engendering trust, respect and civility at City Hall
    • Council institute sanctions for breaches of confidentiality by deeming breaches to be offences under the Provincial Offences Act



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